In 1926 Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile made the first undisputed crossing of the North Pole by air. The film of the expedition has recently been discovered and magnificently restored. Live Cinema accompanied on piano by Nikau Palm.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
In 1926 Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile flew with 13 others in the airship Norge from Ny-Ålesund at Svalbard over the North Pole to Teller in Alaska. Theirs was the first undisputed crossing of the North Pole by air. It was also the most intensely photographed of polar expeditions, with movie cameras taking in the views from the ground and from on board the airship.
The flight, which originated with airship designer and pilot Nobile in Rome, had been touted as ‘Rome to Nome’ but bad weather forced a landing at the small settlement of Teller just short of Nome. Richard Byrd was encountered en route to and from his subsequently disputed Polar flyover. The Norwegian cameras were there all the way, and all the way home too. Hero’s welcomes await Nobile in Naples and Rome (a medal from Mussolini); and Amundsen, the first person to travel to both poles of the earth, throughout the length of Norway.
This visually stunning record has been little seen in the 85 years since it first thrilled adventure-loving audiences with its still awe-inspiring images of technological triumph and spectacular vistas of the frozen North. A perfectly preserved nitrate print in the Cinémathèque Suisse provided the material for this magnificent restoration by the Norwegian Film Museum. NZIFF and the New Zealand Film Archive are delighted that they have entrusted us with a 35mm print so gleamingly fresh that you might be caught up in the wonderful modernity of it all and applaud the final uplifting title card: “The Future belongs to the Airship!”. — BG